A Model-T for the modern era
October 22, 2008 A century after the Model T put the world on wheels, Ford Motor Company has announced the winners of a global competition that challenged five universities to create a similarly revolutionary vehicle concept. The winner of the competition was Germany’s Aachen University's Institute of Automotive Engineering (ika), which took home the USD$25,000 in scholarship funds by developing a concept that met the requirements set by Ford: the vehicle had to be simple, lightweight, practical, and durable, offer a range of at least 125 miles, accommodate at least two passengers and be priced no more than $7,000.
The Ford jury also named Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia, as second winner for their entry of a three-wheel concept car code named Model T2 (T-Squared).
The core Aachen University team, consisting of eight students and engineers, developed a modular vehicle concept – the Model T for the year 2015 – with an estimated price of $6,780. The base model is a mini-size pick-up version of a three-seater, with passengers accommodated next to each other. With the driver's seat centrally located, there are no extra costs for right-hand-drive or left-hand-drive versions. Additional weight and costs are saved by making the driver's seat only adjustable.
The vehicle weighs 800kg – increasing if its petrol engine were combined with an electric motor to become a hybrid, or if converted into a full-EV. An electric-only system would cost double that of the standard petrol unit, the Aachen team said. CO2 emissions would vary between 54 and 100g/km depending on the chosen propulsion system.
Aachen University, which was the only European University to take part in the competition, as well as the ika, have worked in close co-operation with Ford of Europe for many decades. In particular, they are working very intensively with the Ford Research Centre in Aachen, which is the only Ford research facility of its type outside the US.
The Australian winner - T2 - features a novel steering system and compressed air rotary hub motors (with some compressed natural gas support for longer distance travel). The three wheel design allows the car to turn 360° on itself making parking a breeze, and the use of differential wheel speeds to steer the car means there is no need for a conventional gearbox, driveline or steering rack-pinion systems.
The Ford Model T debuted on October 1, 1908 and more than 15 million were built and sold during its 19 year production run.
As for the 21st century designs - we applaud the efforts, but they do fall a little short on character compared to the original Tin Lizzie.